Saturday car event hears concerns of Rancho Santa Fe residents

On Saturday mornings, the Rancho Santa Fe Cars and Coffee event brings a variety of vintage and newer sports and luxury cars to the village streets. While the event brings car enthusiasts together and a little extra action for village merchants, Rancho Santa Fe Association Manager Christy Whalen said she has also received a number of complaints from residents about traffic, parking and noise.

Representatives from Rancho Santa Fe Cars and Coffee attended the June 12 Association meeting to hear the concerns and introduce themselves to the community.

The informal event, held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Paseo Delicias and Avenida de Acacias, took over for the long-running Secret Car Club, which discontinued its village meetups in August 2017 and now meets Saturdays in Cielo.

Bill Siino, a resident of Rancho Santa Fe for five years and avid car collector, created the Facebook page and event rather informally last year, inviting those within a 10-mile radius. He said the efforts were just to bring some vitality back to the village, which becomes a “ghost town” on the weekends.

“I’ve always loved Rancho Santa Fe,” said Siino. “I’m just in it because I like the town. We’re very sensitive to the issues neighbors have.”

He said he knows for sure that Caffe Positano benefits because there is a line out the door on Saturdays. Nick & G’s has also responded well to the club activity, on June 16 offering up beignets and complimentary coffee on the patio and offering to do a small mixer in July in honor of National Collector Car Appreciation Day. Siino said he has also heard support from local realtor Jason Barry, noting that the event brings “desperately needed” activity and energy to the village.

That energy is not always welcome to all, however.

“When collectors drive away they like to expose the community to their speed capability and noise,” said RSF Association Director Steve Dunn. “Some of them get pretty frisky.”

A resident on Calzada del Bosque concurred that the speeds of those showing off their Lambos and Porsches can be excessive and dangerous.

“I find the noise a distraction on Saturdays,” agreed RSG Association Treasurer Janet Danola. “All I can hear is high performance vehicles racing on our street.”

Newly-elected board member Sharon Ruhnau said that the speed of cars is a problem, particularly for those on horseback. She said on Saturday mornings she knows not to cross on Via de Santa Fe because cars will be ripping through at high speed. “As a rider you put yourself in harm’s way just by riding the trails,” she said.

Danola noted that cyclists, walkers and runners are also at risk by cars coming quickly around the Covenant roads’ many blind corners.

Siino said they are aware of these concerns and have posted rules to their visitors: arrive and leave quietly, comply with posted speed limits, be courteous and obey traffic laws, and to stand on the sidewalks not the street. They have also advised drivers not to rev their engines because it disturbs residents and alarms horses, to drive carefully on the curvy roads, and to be watchful for bicyclists.

He said the number of incidents has greatly reduced since they started up last fall, due to working with the CHP and Rancho Santa Fe Patrol.

Cars and Coffee regular Maurice Rizzuto said the regulars make an effort to educate the new faces they see, reminding everyone to obey traffic laws as they will be ticketed by the CHP officers present.

“We want to keep it a civilized, fun atmosphere and not be a nuisance to anyone in the neighborhood,” Rizzuto said.

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